TED Talks India: Nayi Soch — Not just Shah Rukh Khan, a host of speakers inspire with their innovations

Gayatri Gauri

December 11, 2017 10:55:42 IST

If TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is all about “ideas worth spreading”, their Indian collaboration with Star Network, TED Talks India Nayi Soch is probably the best show to have premiered on Indian television, in recent times.

The last television show to have a semblance of meaning and relevance in its attempt to reflect social evils was Satyameva Jayate hosted by Aamir Khan. Now we have an equally important show, far removed from reality TV and entertainment fare, and hosted by Shah Rukh Khan.

Aamir cried and made the nation cry in Satyameva Jayate. In Ted Talks Nayi Soch, Shah Rukh goes a step further and simply listens to other speakers and seems as inspired as the rest of us.

Shah Rukh Khan as the host of Ted Talks India: Nayi Soch

But before we go into the details of the show, first a big thumbs up for the right choice of host. Shah Rukh has been a speaker on the International TED talk, and continues to be a source of inspiration. Humble in his approach and presence; sharp, witty and progressive in his thoughts and words; an Economics graduate from Delhi university and having been bestowed an honorary doctorate from University of Edinburgh for his outstanding contribution to philanthropy, altruism and global reach as an actor — Shah Rukh is the ideal person to host a show that’s all about inspiration, innovation and ideas. Of course, his short exchanges with each speaker, include his standard light quip to bring a laugh or two.

Talking of the speakers, it’s an interesting change from the international show, to hear them all speak in Hindi on various subjects. This instantly makes them accessible to the masses who can understand and connect. The first episode started with an extremely brief introduction by Shah Rukh, thankfully without the usual Bollywood fanfare or silly jokes. It is time that television channels realise that Bollywood has become seriously boring with the likes of Karan Johar and Rohit Shetty dominating the small screen; let's not forget every other news channel coming up with inane celebrity interviews.

Hence, it’s the most refreshing to see a show that minimises the towering presence of a Bollywood star like Shah Rukh Khan and focuses entirely on the speakers who limit their talk time to 3-5 minutes. The first episode brings us an excellent choice of people who we have not heard before.

The first speaker was Dr Gautam Bhan, who spoke about the lack of housing for an insanely populated country like ours. His perspective tells us to change our attitude towards slum dwellers and their rights to what he calls perfectly —“basti”. The solution, according to him, is not to demolish slums but provide better living conditions to them. “Ghar saste hain magar durast nahin,” he rightly points out.

The next speaker is Shubhendu Sharma, an industrial engineer who stopped making automobiles and instead creates mini forests in cities. He has already made a hundred jungles in 35 cities. According to him, it is possible to make a forest in a 6-car park area at the cost of an iPhone. Certainly, with today’s global warming hitting a stormy sky, this environmental idea of creating “dharti aur jeeevan” needs to spread like forest fires.

Next, music composer Sneha Khanwalkar (Gangs of Wasseypur, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye) came up with an imaginative presentation on creating your own “zone” the way she did on stage with her song, 'Main hoon mera zone'.

The fourth speaker was Manu Prakash, a physicist who informs us how a hundred crore people are still living without electricity and how the use of science can help bring positive changes. He showed audiences a Foldscope - a paper microscope created by him. It can be used for a simple blood test machine in remote villages without basic amenities. He urges everyone to start thinking of science not as a tough subject to clear in exams, but a fun thing to explore and use right in our homes and kitchens.

Novelist Manju Kapoor came up with the basic idea of changing our attitude and treating men and women equally, so that gender equality prevails in relationships between couples. The idea of providing “emotional education” to Indian men to make them aware of their conditioned behavior, can bring about a healthy change in families. This segment was totally avoidable as the speaker was more of a plug for Star Plus’show Yeh Hai Mohabattein based on Kapoor’s novel.

Lastly, Anirudh Sharma, a young scientist, showed us how he actually uses pollution to create something productive. As he quoted, "pollution is nothing but resources not harvested”. He has put this belief into practice by creating ink out of soot.

Ted Talks India: Nayi Soch airs at 7 pm every Sunday on Star, or you can catch the episodes on Hotstar.

Updated Date: Dec 11, 2017 11:48 AM